IMPROVING COMMUNICATION WITH CRISIS-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
Traditional and Informal Channels
Traditional channels of face-to-face communication through village elders and chiefs and Islamic religious leaders remain important in Niger.
Doctors and teachers are also seen as important community leaders.
Communication through community leaders is particularly important for people living in rural areas, with poor access to radio and television.
UNICEF has worked successfully with imams to publicise child vaccination programmes and encourage parents to have their children immunised.
The US-based media development organisation Equal Access also has a programme of engagement with religious leaders to support its radio development work.
Equal Access produced 40 episodes of a religious discussion programme in conjunction with the Islamic radio station Radio Bonferey.
It also held a series of workshops for religious leaders in Maradi and Niamey to help them improve their communication skills.
This included training in how to structure sermons and deliver messages. The workshops also encouraged religious tolerance by discussing the impact of spreading negative messages about other faiths.
Equal Access found that in some imams were unable to read and had not previously met representatives from other religious faiths.
Equal Access also works with civil society community associations in villages to form ‘listening clubs’ for specific radio programmes which carry important social messages.
These groups listen to the programmes together and discuss them afterwards.
The government-backed Association Islamique du Niger (AIN) is a useful starting point for establishing contact with local religious leaders.
Ustaz Mouha Khalil Dan Yaro, a senior representative of AIN, can be contacted on mobile telephone number: +227 9696 9509.
He is also a member of the Haut Conseil Islamique du Niger (High Islamic Council of Niger).